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1.  Next Generation Flow for highly sensitive and standardized detection of minimal residual disease in multiple myeloma 
Leukemia  2017;31(10):2094-2103.
Flow cytometry has become a highly valuable method to monitor minimal residual disease (MRD) and evaluate the depth of complete response (CR) in bone marrow (BM) of multiple myeloma (MM) after therapy. However, current flow-MRD has lower sensitivity than molecular methods and lacks standardization. Here we report on a novel next generation flow (NGF) approach for highly sensitive and standardized MRD detection in MM. An optimized 2-tube 8-color antibody panel was constructed in five cycles of design-evaluation-redesign. In addition, a bulk-lysis procedure was established for acquisition of ⩾107 cells/sample, and novel software tools were constructed for automatic plasma cell gating. Multicenter evaluation of 110 follow-up BM from MM patients in very good partial response (VGPR) or CR showed a higher sensitivity for NGF-MRD vs conventional 8-color flow-MRD -MRD-positive rate of 47 vs 34% (P=0.003)-. Thus, 25% of patients classified as MRD-negative by conventional 8-color flow were MRD-positive by NGF, translating into a significantly longer progression-free survival for MRD-negative vs MRD-positive CR patients by NGF (75% progression-free survival not reached vs 7 months; P=0.02). This study establishes EuroFlow-based NGF as a highly sensitive, fully standardized approach for MRD detection in MM which overcomes the major limitations of conventional flow-MRD methods and is ready for implementation in routine diagnostics.
doi:10.1038/leu.2017.29
PMCID: PMC5629369  PMID: 28104919
2.  T-cell receptor Vβ skewing frequently occurs in refractory cytopenia of childhood and is associated with an expansion of effector cytotoxic T cells: a prospective study by EWOG-MDS 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(5):e209-.
Immunosuppressive therapy (IST), consisting of antithymocyte globulin and cyclosporine A, is effective in refractory cytopenia of childhood (RCC), suggesting that, similar to low-grade myelodysplastic syndromes in adult patients, T lymphocytes are involved in suppressing hematopoiesis in a subset of RCC patients. However, the potential role of a T-cell-mediated pathophysiology in RCC remains poorly explored. In a cohort of 92 RCC patients, we prospectively assessed the frequency of T-cell receptor (TCR) β-chain variable (Vβ) domain skewing in bone marrow and peripheral blood by heteroduplex PCR, and analyzed T-cell subsets in peripheral blood by flow cytometry. TCRVβ skewing was present in 40% of RCC patients. TCRVβ skewing did not correlate with bone marrow cellularity, karyotype, transfusion history, HLA-DR15 or the presence of a PNH clone. In 28 patients treated with IST, TCRVβ skewing was not clearly related with treatment response. However, TCRVβ skewing did correlate with a disturbed CD4+/CD8+ T-cell ratio, a reduction in naive CD8+ T cells, an expansion of effector CD8+ T cells and an increase in activated CD8+ T cells (defined as HLA-DR+, CD57+ or CD56+). These data suggest that T lymphocytes contribute to RCC pathogenesis in a proportion of patients, and provide a rationale for treatment with IST in selected patients with RCC.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.28
PMCID: PMC4042298  PMID: 24786393
4.  Defining consensus leukemia-associated immunophenotypes for detection of minimal residual disease in acute myeloid leukemia in a multicenter setting 
Blood Cancer Journal  2013;3(8):e129-.
Flow-cytometric detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) has proven in several single-institute studies to have an independent prognostic impact. We studied whether this relatively complex approach could be performed in a multicenter clinical setting. Five centers developed common protocols to accurately define leukemia-associated (immuno)phenotypes (LAPs) at diagnosis required to establish MRD during/after treatment. List mode data files were exchanged, and LAPs were designed by each center. One center, with extensive MRD experience, served as the reference center and coordinator. In quarterly meetings, consensus LAPs were defined, with the performance of centers compared with these. In a learning (29 patients) and a test phase (35 patients), a mean of 2.2 aberrancies/patient was detected, and only 1/63 patients (1.6%) had no consensus LAP(s). For the four centers without (extensive) MRD experience, clear improvement could be shown: in the learning phase, 39–63% of all consensus LAPs were missed, resulting in a median 30% of patients (range 21–33%) for whom no consensus LAP was reported; in the test phase, 27–40% missed consensus LAPs, resulting in a median 16% (range 7–18%) of ‘missed' patients. The quality of LAPs was extensively described. Immunophenotypic MRD assessment in its current setting needs extensive experience and should be limited to experienced centers.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2013.27
PMCID: PMC3763381  PMID: 23912609
minimal residual disease; flow cytometry; multicenter
6.  A certified plasmid reference material for the standardisation of BCR–ABL1 mRNA quantification by real-time quantitative PCR 
Leukemia  2014;29(2):369-376.
Serial quantification of BCR–ABL1 mRNA is an important therapeutic indicator in chronic myeloid leukaemia, but there is a substantial variation in results reported by different laboratories. To improve comparability, an internationally accepted plasmid certified reference material (CRM) was developed according to ISO Guide 34:2009. Fragments of BCR–ABL1 (e14a2 mRNA fusion), BCR and GUSB transcripts were amplified and cloned into pUC18 to yield plasmid pIRMM0099. Six different linearised plasmid solutions were produced with the following copy number concentrations, assigned by digital PCR, and expanded uncertainties: 1.08±0.13 × 106, 1.08±0.11 × 105, 1.03±0.10 × 104, 1.02±0.09 × 103, 1.04±0.10 × 102 and 10.0±1.5 copies/μl. The certification of the material for the number of specific DNA fragments per plasmid, copy number concentration of the plasmid solutions and the assessment of inter-unit heterogeneity and stability were performed according to ISO Guide 35:2006. Two suitability studies performed by 63 BCR–ABL1 testing laboratories demonstrated that this set of 6 plasmid CRMs can help to standardise a number of measured transcripts of e14a2 BCR–ABL1 and three control genes (ABL1, BCR and GUSB). The set of six plasmid CRMs is distributed worldwide by the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (Belgium) and its authorised distributors (https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/reference-materials/catalogue/; CRM code ERM-AD623a-f).
doi:10.1038/leu.2014.217
PMCID: PMC4320294  PMID: 25036192
8.  Flow cytometric immunobead assay for fast and easy detection of PML–RARA fusion proteins for the diagnosis of acute promyelocytic leukemia 
Leukemia  2012;26(9):1976-1985.
The PML–RARA fusion protein is found in approximately 97% of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). APL can be associated with life-threatening bleeding complications when undiagnosed and not treated expeditiously. The PML–RARA fusion protein arrests maturation of myeloid cells at the promyelocytic stage, leading to the accumulation of neoplastic promyelocytes. Complete remission can be obtained by treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) in combination with chemotherapy. Diagnosis of APL is based on the detection of t(15;17) by karyotyping, fluorescence in situ hybridization or PCR. These techniques are laborious and demand specialized laboratories. We developed a fast (performed within 4–5 h) and sensitive (detection of at least 10% malignant cells in normal background) flow cytometric immunobead assay for the detection of PML–RARA fusion proteins in cell lysates using a bead-bound anti-RARA capture antibody and a phycoerythrin-conjugated anti-PML detection antibody. Testing of 163 newly diagnosed patients (including 46 APL cases) with the PML–RARA immunobead assay showed full concordance with the PML–RARA PCR results. As the applied antibodies recognize outer domains of the fusion protein, the assay appeared to work independently of the PML gene break point region. Importantly, the assay can be used in parallel with routine immunophenotyping for fast and easy diagnosis of APL.
doi:10.1038/leu.2012.125
PMCID: PMC3437408  PMID: 22948489
PML–RARA protein; t(15;17); APL; immunobead; flow cytometry
9.  EuroFlow standardization of flow cytometer instrument settings and immunophenotyping protocols 
Leukemia  2012;26(9):1986-2010.
The EU-supported EuroFlow Consortium aimed at innovation and standardization of immunophenotyping for diagnosis and classification of hematological malignancies by introducing 8-color flow cytometry with fully standardized laboratory procedures and antibody panels in order to achieve maximally comparable results among different laboratories. This required the selection of optimal combinations of compatible fluorochromes and the design and evaluation of adequate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for instrument setup, fluorescence compensation and sample preparation. Additionally, we developed software tools for the evaluation of individual antibody reagents and antibody panels. Each section describes what has been evaluated experimentally versus adopted based on existing data and experience. Multicentric evaluation demonstrated high levels of reproducibility based on strict implementation of the EuroFlow SOPs and antibody panels. Overall, the 6 years of extensive collaborative experiments and the analysis of hundreds of cell samples of patients and healthy controls in the EuroFlow centers have provided for the first time laboratory protocols and software tools for fully standardized 8-color flow cytometric immunophenotyping of normal and malignant leukocytes in bone marrow and blood; this has yielded highly comparable data sets, which can be integrated in a single database.
doi:10.1038/leu.2012.122
PMCID: PMC3437409  PMID: 22948490
flow cytometry; standardization; compensation; software; fluorochromes; immunophenotyping
10.  EuroFlow antibody panels for standardized n-dimensional flow cytometric immunophenotyping of normal, reactive and malignant leukocytes 
Leukemia  2012;26(9):1908-1975.
Most consensus leukemia & lymphoma antibody panels consist of lists of markers based on expert opinions, but they have not been validated. Here we present the validated EuroFlow 8-color antibody panels for immunophenotyping of hematological malignancies. The single-tube screening panels and multi-tube classification panels fit into the EuroFlow diagnostic algorithm with entries defined by clinical and laboratory parameters. The panels were constructed in 2–7 sequential design–evaluation–redesign rounds, using novel Infinicyt software tools for multivariate data analysis. Two groups of markers are combined in each 8-color tube: (i) backbone markers to identify distinct cell populations in a sample, and (ii) markers for characterization of specific cell populations. In multi-tube panels, the backbone markers were optimally placed at the same fluorochrome position in every tube, to provide identical multidimensional localization of the target cell population(s). The characterization markers were positioned according to the diagnostic utility of the combined markers. Each proposed antibody combination was tested against reference databases of normal and malignant cells from healthy subjects and WHO-based disease entities, respectively. The EuroFlow studies resulted in validated and flexible 8-color antibody panels for multidimensional identification and characterization of normal and aberrant cells, optimally suited for immunophenotypic screening and classification of hematological malignancies.
doi:10.1038/leu.2012.120
PMCID: PMC3437410  PMID: 22552007
EuroFlow; antibody panel; lymphoma; flow cytometry; 8-color immunostaining; standardization; hematological malignancies
11.  The MLL recombinome of acute leukemias in 2013 
Leukemia  2013;27(11):2165-2176.
Chromosomal rearrangements of the human MLL (mixed lineage leukemia) gene are associated with high-risk infant, pediatric, adult and therapy-induced acute leukemias. We used long-distance inverse-polymerase chain reaction to characterize the chromosomal rearrangement of individual acute leukemia patients. We present data of the molecular characterization of 1590 MLL-rearranged biopsy samples obtained from acute leukemia patients. The precise localization of genomic breakpoints within the MLL gene and the involved translocation partner genes (TPGs) were determined and novel TPGs identified. All patients were classified according to their gender (852 females and 745 males), age at diagnosis (558 infant, 416 pediatric and 616 adult leukemia patients) and other clinical criteria. Combined data of our study and recently published data revealed a total of 121 different MLL rearrangements, of which 79 TPGs are now characterized at the molecular level. However, only seven rearrangements seem to be predominantly associated with illegitimate recombinations of the MLL gene (∼90%): AFF1/AF4, MLLT3/AF9, MLLT1/ENL, MLLT10/AF10, ELL, partial tandem duplications (MLL PTDs) and MLLT4/AF6, respectively. The MLL breakpoint distributions for all clinical relevant subtypes (gender, disease type, age at diagnosis, reciprocal, complex and therapy-induced translocations) are presented. Finally, we present the extending network of reciprocal MLL fusions deriving from complex rearrangements.
doi:10.1038/leu.2013.135
PMCID: PMC3826032  PMID: 23628958
MLL; chromosomal translocations; translocation partner genes; acute leukemia; ALL; AML

Results 1-11 (11)